Irish Congress of Trade Unions
|Full name||Irish Congress of Trade Unions|
|Country||The Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland|
|Affiliation||ITUC, ETUC, TUAC|
|Key people||David Begg, general secretary, Peter Bunting Assistant general secretary,|
|Office location||Dublin, Ireland|
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (often abbreviated to just Congress or ICTU), formed in 1959 by the merger of the Irish Trade Union Congress (founded in 1894) and the Congress of Irish Unions (founded in 1945), is a national trade union centre, the umbrella organisation to which trade unions in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland affiliate.
There are currently 55 trade unions with membership of Congress, representing about 600,000 members in the Republic of Ireland. Trade union members represent 35.1% of the Republic's workforce. This is a significant decline since the 55.3% recorded in 1980 and the 38.5% reported in 2003. In the Republic, over 60% of union members are in the public sector. Currently, over 1.4m of the Republic's taxpaying workforce are not members of unions.
The supreme policy-making body of Congress is the Biennial Delegate Conference, to which affiliated unions send delegates. On a day-to-day basis Congress is run by an Executive Committee and a staffed secretariat headed up by the general secretary, David Begg who succeeded Peter Cassels in the position in 2001.
Eugene Mc Glone of Unite the Union became President of Congress at the biennial conference in Killarney in July 2011 succeeding Jack O'Connor of SIPTU. The president serves for a two-year period and is succeeded by one of two vice-presidents.
Congress is the sole Irish affiliate of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the representative body for trade unions at European level.
Congress enjoyed unprecedented political and economic influence over the period from 1987 to 2009 under the umbrella of Ireland's social partnership arrangements. This involved a series of seven corporatist agreements with the government and the main manufacturing/services employer body IBEC and the construction employers' lobby, CIF (Construction Industry Federation). It was a classic European-style alliance of government, labour and capital built on six decades of voluntary employment relations regulated by state institutions such as the Labour Court.
For many years the union leaders agreed to dampen pay rises in return for regular reductions in income tax rates. They also negotiated a new system of pay determination for public service employees under the rubric of "benchmarking" using external assessment of pay scales for assorted grades.
The era of Christian democratic style corporatism also saw a dramatic fall in trade union density from 62% in 1980 to 31% in 2007 and consolidation through mergers of many affiliated trade unions. Efforts to launch recruitment and organising initiatives failed to secure adequate support from affiliated unions while attempts to secure indirect forms of union recognition through legislation collapsed after successful legal challenges and appeals by the anti-union Ryanair company.
Ireland's period of centralised 'social pacts' ended in late 2009 when the government imposed pay cuts of between 5% and 8% on public service employees. The joint-stewardship of the state's FÁS training and employment authority by Congress and IBEC and accompanied waste of public and EU funds and excessive spending on directors 'junkets' further weakened the public standing of Congress and its 'social partnership' structures.
In an assessment of the post-partnership situation, Congress general secretary David Begg prepared a strategic review paper in which he identified the increasing weakness of the Congress and individual trade unions being due to "recession and change in the balance of power with capital" as well as job cuts, poor organisation, especially in high-technology companies, and a growing rift between public and private sector employees.
On a more positive note Begg asserted that the ending of social partnership arrangements "liberates us to advocate and campaign for our own policies".
- Association of First Division Civil Servants
- Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants
- Association of Irish Traditional Musicians
- Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland
- Association of Teachers and Lecturers
- Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
- British Actors Equity Association
- Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union
- Building and Allied Trades Unions
- Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
- Civil and Public Services Union
- Communication Workers Union
- Communication Workers Union
- Electricity Supply Boards Officers Association
- Fire Brigades Union
- GMB Union
- Guinness Staff Union
- Irish Bank Officials' Association
- Irish Federation of University Teachers
- Irish Medical Organisation
- Irish Municipal, Public and Civil Trade Union
- Irish National Teachers Organisation
- Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation
- Medical Laboratory Scientists Association
- National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers
- National Union of Journalists
- National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
- National Union of Sheet Metal Workers of Ireland
- Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance
- Operative Plasterers and Allied Trades Society of Ireland
- Prison Officers' Association
- Prison Officers' Association
- Public and Commercial Services Union
- Public Service Executive Union
- Services Industrial Professional Technical Union
- Society of Radiographers
- Teachers' Union of Ireland
- Technical Engineering and Electrical Union
- Transport Salaried Staffs Association
- Ulster Teachers' Union
- Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians
- Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers
- Unite the Union
- University and College Union
- Veterinary Ireland
- Veterinary Officers Association
- 1960: Leo Crawford and Ruaidhri Roberts
- 1967: Ruaidhri Roberts
- 1982: Donal Nevin
- 1989: Peter Cassells
- 2001: David Begg
- List of trade unions
- List of federations of trade unions
- Trades Union Congress
- General Federation of Trade Unions (UK)
- Scottish Trades Union Congress
- Affiliated Unions & Trades Councils » About Congress » Congress – Irish Congress of Trade Unions
- The state of trade unionism
- The Irish Times – Mon, Jan 25, 2010 – Membership down to 31% of workers, notes CSO
- The Irish Times – Mon, Jan 25, 2010 – Searching for answers in wake of collapsed partnership
- Professional and White Collar Unions, ICTU
- Other Public Service Unions
- Other Unions, ICTU
- Teachers Unions, ICTU
- Other Industry Unions, ICTU
- Electrical Engineering and Construction Unions, ICTU
- Postal and Telecommunications Unions, ICTU
- General Unions, ICTU
- Distribution Retail and Transport Unions, ICTU